Location hubs/pages

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  • Updated 1 year ago
  • (Edited)
Hello. I've been thinking about this idea for a while, and the more I do, the more I think it'd be a great - and relatively realistic - addition to Last.fm. There's much bigger developer and site tasks right now with the catalogue, I know, but I figured that I'd suggest it now and then hope it picks up traction later. :)

There's often calls for more social integration on Last.fm, especially now that the groups are no more and shoutboxes are less active than they used to be (a byproduct of changing online trends as much as anything else). One area that I really think could encourage this, without being a bit of a rollback, is to add more integration relating to a user's location, and make it easier to find and discuss local events, artists and so on, as well as finding fellow locals to follow.

My suggestion is to introduce location pages, similar to what we have now for artists, dedicated to content relating to a specific area. I'm going to go into quite a bit of detail on the concept I have, but in short it'd be a page that aggregates local events, shows local artists, has a shoutbox (this could be upgraded to a group if groups come back in the future) and allows for the browsing of users (with an opt-out, of course) in the area.

Firstly, here's how I'd define locations: It'd depend on the size of the area, so it might vary from a city to a country. For example, using primarily the United Kingdom as that's where I am:

  • London would be added as a city; It's a big place, with lots of users.
  • Manchester, Leeds, Brighton and some other cities could standalone, but would be best added under their region, so that they catch all of the smaller places (e.g. Stockport under Manchester, Harrogate under Leeds, Worthing under Brighton). So you might have "Leeds and West Yorkshire".
  • North East England would be added as a region; It has Newcastle, which could maybe cope on its own, but it makes more sense to add other locations in the area in. You could still name this "Newcastle and North East England", maybe.
  • Estonia and Switzerland could be added as a country. This would be the case for most places, either due to their small size or their small userbase here. I can only imagine a small number of countries (UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Germany, maybe a few others) might go more specific.
This seems like it would be a fair balance between not being a catch-all and not creating dead, virtually duplicate locations. In order to get users to set their location, one idea might be to show a one-time page to every user asking them to pick their location from a list of the ones available.

These locations would best operate in tandem with, rather than in replacement of the current Google-powered location implementation. So, the site could have a second option for site location, and autofill it based on the current location data, but also allow users to override that if they wish (students away from home may choose to, for example). So, when a user is in Leeds or Harrogate, it'd pick Leeds and West Yorkshire. This second option should make it easier to implement as it wouldn't need to replace the current implementation (or ruin the features that depend upon it). It'd also mean that every location doesn't need a page, so it could be rolled out for bigger locations first, and not rolled out at all for places with no real userbase to speak of. If a user isn't in a place with a location page, it'd simply let them know.

Here's a mock up of this possible implementation:



On each location page, I would suggest including:

  • A Wiki - I guess this would just be for general information on the area, maybe the bands and styles that it's famous for (so Manchester's would mention Madchester, Oasis, etc) but it seems like the best way to start the page (allowing it to be based on the visual style of what exists already).
  • Top lists - Including the top artists based on regions has been suggested before, and this seems like a good way to do it.
  • Events - Listing all of the events in that area. This would use the existing framework, and be an easy way to see what's going on locally at a glance.
  • Artists - Artists from this area. This could be aggregated from existing tags, so for North East England it'd take artists tagged "newcastle", "newcastle upon tyne", "sunderland", "durham", etc. (One problem with this could be shared tags, "newcastle" for example also covering a place in Australia, "durham" a place in North Carolina, but it's the best way to do it unless location data for artists is enhanced.)
  • Users - Something of a big one, and another much-requested feature. This would allow users to browse others based in the location, to find like-minded people. Users would be able to opt-out from the off, allaying any privacy concerns. While other services may offer this, they don't provide anything close to what Last.fm could (Tastebuds, for example, being a premium service and essentially a dating site), and bringing it back would really enhance things here, in my opinion. (The whole feature would work without this, but there'd be more onus on users to find and engage with the page.)
  • Shoutbox - Or group, in the unlikely event that those come back. This would be a place for users to discuss events, local bands, the area locally, and so on. (And probably some event promotion spam too, if the feature kicks off, but if excessive that could be handled).

Other possible inclusions could be:

  • Trending Artists - Similar to Artists, but sort of aggregated to artists that are doing better in that area than they are in general. Something similar used to be part of the groups feature.
  • Venues - Venues in the local area could be accessible, to help users improve the data.
I really think that all of this combined would make it a really useful feature. It could increase user hours on the site, which I assume (!) is a good thing, and it'd encourage better and more regular use of the Events feature. It'd also bring users together. It'd do this without feeling like an attempt to revisit the 2000s. And, as none of this really reinvents the wheel in terms of site design and
functionality, it doesn't feel totally farfetched to do.

Anyway, that's my thinking - I'm sure there's ways others can enhance this idea, but what do we think? :)
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KatyLB, Moderator

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Posted 1 year ago

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Hans-Jürgen, Moderator

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Jon recently mentioned in a related thread the cons and pros of a better user localisation and what would be useful or possible. One important point to consider is that there is also a large group of users who prefer keeping that info private, e.g. to prevent being stalked by trolls, ex-friends etc. So developing such a feature would not be wanted by all or even the most users, but cost resources instead. I'll also mention Tastebuds.fm again which you might already know.
(Edited)
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KatyLB, Moderator

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Well, I did mention that being listed should very much be possible to opt-out from, so I would imagine that wouldn't be a problem. Users appreciate the choice of privacy more than the absence of features, I imagine! Most privacy controversy comes from things buried in smallprint or features that can't be switched off. Even then, the feature isn't totally dependent on being able to browse users, it'd be nice even as a hub with the other information.

I've registered for Tastebuds and looked at it before. I know you're a big advocate, but I really don't think it offers the same experience at all. Firstly, features are heavily paywalled (you can't even message people without paying), and also it's billed to an extent as a dating site, which isn't what a lot of people want. (Also, try being a girl on Tastebuds - I want social features, sure, but I don't want creepers!) Also, Last.fm has a much bigger userbase and a lot of features that site doesn't offer.
(Edited)
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Hans-Jürgen, Moderator

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Of course users should be able to choose what they want to reveal about their location, but it still would have to be developed and tested by a small team which would have to postpone other new features for it. ;-) I'm not a big fan of Tastebuds.fm, by the way, but it may be the right site for some users looking for friends in their neighbourhood who are also on Last.fm.
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KatyLB, Moderator

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That does make sense :) There's far more important things in the works right now, of course, but at least my interpretation on the idea is out there to be considered. I do think it'd be a really popular new feature, even if it's some time down the line.
(Edited)
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G.G.B.

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Interesting idea, though I think to define special location hubs with fixed borders wouldn't be the best solution. Most of the factors that matter are potentially dynamic. The amount of users in an area, the borders of a region, your personal range of motion and area of interest, all of this could change. 
So I would prefer to use the existing offical geographic areas and let users choose on a map, which of the regions are in their field of interest and which ones they want to join, starting from little villages up to entire continents. So you could for example get a filtered feed of all the hubs you have joined on the home page.
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KatyLB, Moderator

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Hmm, it's a good point. I just don't think you could have such an implementation with tiny places, there has to be some degree of scale to it. For example, if you include a small village (or even a town), that page is most likely going to be completely dead, but including those villages in one larger area increases the possibility of activity and content. Also, it's more convenient to check out one region page for the vast majority of users than it is to follow lots and lots of them, many of which would lack any content.

Also, I don't know if it gave the wrong impression, but I wasn't suggesting to geolock the hubs and not allow the use of other ones. So if I'm taking on the role of queen of the feature and explaining how I'd do it (hehe), people would have a default, so that they can appear on the user list (again, with opt-out), from which most I imagine would pick the location closest to them. But after that, they'd be free to browse and engage anywhere. I'd probably include the feature under "Locations" or a similar title on the top menu, and have a full list available.

But letting users follow lots of hubs (maybe with a follow button, like on user pages) and include their data in a feed is a really good idea, it could be used to enhance the home and live pages.
(Edited)
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G.G.B.

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Regarding the scaling: In theory could be completely dynamic, if users just draw a circle on a map or click on areas on the map they want to add to their dynamic hub feed. The precondition would be of course that users add their location in some way. GPS coordinates would be exact but also a privacy risk. To choose a wider home hub area as you mentioned it would also be a risk but to a less degree.
I think small regions could be very interesting to discover regarding the musical preferences of the people who live there, even if their numbers are small.
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Pierre-Olivier Dion

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I'm curious : why do you consider groups unlikely to come back?

I know that they've been gone for a ridiculous amount of time... But, as far as I know, the official announcement is still that groups have been saved and will be reintroduced in the coming months (lol)  did I miss something ?